Citation: Dhanesh Wisumperuma, The Date of the Martello Tower in Hambantota, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, Vol 60, Part 1, 2015, pp. 62-76.
The Martello Tower in Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka is the sole example of this fortification type in the country. It is a two storied, round gun-tower on a small hill, designed to be used as a defence structure. Although many agree that this is a British construction, the precise date of this tower was not known mainly due to the lack of records and the fact that several dates between 1796 and 1803 were proposed by various authors. The first mention of its existence was a record from 1806. This paper attempts to present documentary evidence for the date of the construction of the tower. According to records, the construction of the Martello Tower in Hambantota commenced after September 1804 and it was still under construction by May 1805. The construction of the tower was an idea of Major General D.D. Wemyss, Commander of the Forces in Ceylon, who ordered Lt. William Gosset of the Royal Engineers to construct a round tower to accommodate fifty people. It is evident that this tower was not used by the British for defence from the attacks of the Kandyans in Hambantota in 1803, and in fact, the need for such a defensive structure was prompted by those attacks. It appears that this tower has not been tested for enemy attacks.
Full paper (PDF): https://www.academia.edu/12628783/The_Date_of_the_Martello_Tower_in_Hambantota